ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -LaMont Jordan knows full well that he has plenty of doubters heading into his third season in Oakland.
That's to be expected after he rushed for only 434 yards in nine games last season before his season was cut short by a knee injury. The Raiders responded by asking Jordan to take a pay cut, signing free agent Dominic Rhodes and drafting Michael Bush.
``There's a lot of people questioning whether I'm the guy for the job,'' Jordan said. ``Of course at some point pride's going to get in the way, and at some point you're going to want to make a statement. But it's not something I talk about.''
Instead, Jordan will try to let his play answer his critics. After missing his first preseason game with a sore back, Jordan looked sharp running behind the Raiders' new zone-blocking scheme last weekend against San Francisco.
He ran for 67 yards on eight carries, ripping off one 32-yard run and scoring Oakland's first touchdown on a physical 3-yard run in the second quarter. That showed Jordan he can succeed in the new scheme that emphasizes patience and quick cuts over a power game.
``Each player wants to be successful,'' Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said. ``He's heard us talk about it but he didn't know it for sure. I'm sure he was thinking in his mind, 'Hey maybe I am a power gap scheme runner' because he's run so much of that in his career. So I'm sure he felt really good and felt excited about the results he had.''
The Raiders overhauled their blocking scheme under line coach Tom Cable after a historically inept performance in 2006. They scored only 168 points - the fifth fewest in a 16-game season - had just 12 offensive touchdowns, allowed an NFL-worst 72 sacks and averaged only 3.9 yards per carry on the way to a 2-14 season.
Jordan was unproductive in coach Art Shell's offense, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and catching only 10 passes before his injury. That led to another coaching change, bringing Kiffin in to run an offense that has more similarities to the one Norv Turner ran in Jordan's first season in Oakland.
``We have a new scheme, a new attitude, a new line coach,'' Jordan said. ``I'm starting to get a better understanding of the sideways running. But overall we're just going to be a better offense. We have a system that we understand, quarterbacks understand. We have a system that we like. But also, the person who's calling the plays, that's going to be a big difference. But none of that really matters. Us as players have to go out there and take care of our job, and if we do that, then we'll be fine.''
Despite the offseason additions and paycut, Jordan appears on track to start the season opener Sept. 8 against Detroit. Rhodes will miss the first four games because of a suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and Bush has still not returned from the broken leg that sidelined him most of his senior season at Louisville.
That leaves Jordan as the apparent starter in front of Justin Fargas and Adimchinobe Echemandu in a division known for its great runners.
A big reason the Raiders have gone winless in the AFC West the past two seasons has been because they have not been able to match up with LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego, Larry Johnson in Kansas City and whichever back Mike Shanahan uses in Denver, with Travis Henry being the guy this season
``Right now the AFC West, I'm clearly the back that's not even in this hemisphere,'' Jordan said. ``When you look at Travis Henry, Larry Johnson and LaDainian, I'm not even mentioned on the same page as those guys. That's something that I would like to change. I have to do my part, the offensive line has to do their part, us as a team, we have to do our part.''
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